Seeing, believing and life eternal – Pan’s Labyrinth

Posted: February 28, 2012 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Uncategorized
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Not many people have seen Guillermo Del Toro’s masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth. Shame on you, mankind.  Maybe you were too lazy to read the subtitles and you missed one of the best movies of last decade. Del Toro has an immense imagination and his monstrous creations are very original and pretty scary (that pale man is freaky/fascinating stuff).

Here is the trailer for the film, go watch it. Now. Afterwards, discussion with spoilers.

The story is set during the time of the Spanish Civil War in 1944. Brutal times, in case you did not know. The plot follows a girl called Ofelia, as she and her pregnant mother move to live her stepfather, a violent and mean captain of the governmental fascist forces. There are rebels living nearby and things do get pretty brutal. Oh ye of faint heart, beware.

The film is achingly beautiful and at times, very, very scary. I will say it again: pale man. Worthy of notice is also the stunning soundtrack with its main lullaby being one for the ages. I want to play that thing on a piano one of these days.

We can draw very interesting parallels and contrasts between the story and the Bible. Of course, Del Toro is not trying to do a Christian movie at all; he nevertheless touches in truths that are eternal and that can be compared to Biblical teachings.

Ofelia, full of fear and uncertainty as she moves to her new home, begins to encounter mysterious, fairy like creatures. As she wanders in the woods she begins to come in touch with magic creatures who tell her about her true nature; that of a princess from another realm who has been living on Earth. Yet, in order to verify if her essence is intact, she needs to complete three tasks before the full moon. The film is rather dubious over whether Ofelia really is a princess and those fantastic beings really exist or if that is simply stuff from her imagination to help her deal with the world.

We who live in this Earth are naturally blind to a higher reality of who we are, who we were made to be and whom we can become. As with Ofelia, we are naturally incapable of seeing who we are; because of the Fall we deny the existence and attributes of the true God, refusing to give him glory (Rm 1:18-25). We deny our place as image of God as we deny his divinity and rule. It is only by external revelation that we are able to truly comprehend our place in the planet and the reality of the spiritual world. While the Faun wants to investigate whether Ofelia’s essence is intact by giving her tasks to accomplish, we know that our essence is corrupt because we have already fallen in our first task. The tasks help us understand fear, greed and even temptation. Let’s leave these to another post.

Ofelia behaves and thinks differently than those around her because she is aware of a reality that is unseen to all the others. Her actions, her goals and her methods make no sense to those who are not aware of what she believes to be true. She marches by another drummer. As believers in Christ, we also live by things which are not seen; we behave based on an old story that dictates the true comprehension of how the world works; and very often people are clueless about why we do the things we do.

In her final task, in order to reach her true kingdom, Ofelia has to shed innocent blood, which she refuses to do – and that decision costs her own blood. In this way she proves herself to be a true queen and is given access to the kingdom. Of course, in our case, no matter how much we would be willing to shed our own blood, it would never be enough precisely because “our essence” is not pure anymore, it is tainted with sin. In this way, the innocent’s blood is inevitable to grant us access to the kingdom and make us into who we were called to be from eternity.  In times of martyrdom, it is important to know that similar to Ofelia, death is not at all simply a bloody painful and miserable end, but the beginning of the true story in which we will reign with Christ.


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